Everybody Drives in L.A.*

538px-SocalfreewaysystemWIKIL.A. is number one! L.A. is number one!

People living in Los Angeles often boast (brag; tell others how great they are) about the good things in this city: the beaches, the weather, and the interesting sites.

Well, there are benefits to living in Los Angeles, but there are many drawbacks (negative things). One of them is traffic.

In a recent annual (yearly) report on the most congested (blocked; difficult to move around in) cities in the United States, Los Angeles is number 1 — again.  While Los Angeles has topped (been at the top of) the list before, Honolulu, Hawaii, topped the list last year. But L.A. has that dubious honor (having being selected for something that one doesn’t want) again.

According to the report, L.A. drivers spent an average of 59 hours sitting in traffic in 2012. On Friday afternoons when the traffic is at its worst, drivers take an average of one hour to get home.

It’s true that L.A. shares these “honors” with other California cities. San Francisco is third on the list and San Diego, a city about a two-hour drive south of L.A., is seventh on the list.

Unfortunately, traffic is expected to get worse as we go through 2013. This is, of course, bad news, but there is a silver lining (something good resulting from something bad). A major reason for the worsening (getting worse) traffic is that employment (how many people have jobs) is going up. As jobs get added, more people travel on L.A. roads to get to and from work.

You may be saying to yourself, “Why don’t Angelinos (people living in Los Angeles) use more public transportation (such as buses, trains, subways)?” The city IS trying to make strides in (improve) public transportation options. However, part of the problem is inherent in (part of the basic nature of) the geography of the city of Los Angeles.

The city of Los Angeles is about 500 square miles (1,300 square kilometers), but the larger area where people live and commute from (travel to and from work from) — the county of Los Angeles — is approximately 4,000 square miles (10,000 square kilometers). In contrast (showing the difference), for example, the city of Paris, France, is about 40 square miles (100 square kilometers) and the larger Paris urban area is about 1,000 square miles (2,800 square kilometers).

How do you create a public transportation system that encompasses (includes in area) the entire Los Angeles area?

Okay, enough about L.A. Are there transit (transportation) problems in the city where you live? What are some proposed solutions? How do people cope with (live with) these problems?

~ Lucy

* The title of this post is a play on (a version of) some lyrics (words in a song) of a 1988 song called “Walking in L.A.” by the Missing Persons that goes:

Walking in L.A.
Walking in L.A.
Nobody walks in L.A.

Graphic Credit: Socalfreewaysystemwiki from Wikipedia 

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23 Responses to Everybody Drives in L.A.*

  1. Ahn Hee dong says:

    So informative.. Thank you very much ! From Busan, Korea, I always appreciate your devotion for people from all over the world who learn English.

  2. Willy says:

    At the moment I don’t have traffic problem because I have no car.
    Every place I have to reach is reachable by foot, so I don’t need a car (but a day I will buy it because my brother is annoyed to lend me his car when I need).
    However sometimes I used car (I got a ride or, as I said, my brother lent me his car) and usually I don’t have big problems. But at rush-hour (when usually I finish work and I walk by foot towards home) I see nervous people blocked inside their cars.
    By foot is better and I’m lucky I can reach my work (and almost whatever place I need to reach) walking.

  3. Dan says:

    Hello guys,

    I tried listening to that song, but I wasn’t able to get through the end of it, it’s horrible!

    Over here the traffic is quite heavy too. Fortunately I work shifts and at those hours there are far less cars on the streets.

    Nowadays everyone owns a car, wich is quite addictive. I own a small car, what many people would consider as a piece of beep.
    It’s a Fiat 600 2001. For my needs is ok and it goes 18 km. with one litre of gasoline.

    I mostly use it fo commuting. At the moment I am carpooling with a guy. After that,My town is so tiny that I do not need it. Here you just walk.

    At the moment here in my province, they are building up a new railroad line that links Italy to Switzerland and a road for getting the traffic out from little towns
    built when there were no cars.

    I would say that overall over here the trasportation system is quite good. I can’t complain about it.

    Thank you Lucy.

    Dan, Italy

  4. emiliano says:

    Being a boy I read a short story of “Ray Bradbury” its name “The Pedestrian” and it was included in the collection The Golden Apples of the Sun (1953), written
    by HIM.

    Bradbury was like a teacher or a mentor for me and HIs books were some how of a nice good influence for me being a young boy or adolescent.

    His strong points of view about next future were so real and didactic than always has been grateful to me just remember this MAN that died some
    yeara ago.
    I know he ride a bicycle instead of a car……living in L.A.

    Here you have some notes about his ideas::, also some of his remembering talking about the book:

    In an interview, Bradbury revealed that the inspiration for the story came when he was walking down Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles with a friend. On their walk, a police cruiser pulled up and asked what they were doing. Bradbury answered, “Well, we’re putting one foot in front of the other.” The policemen didn’t appreciate Ray’s joke and became suspicious of Bradbury and his friend for walking in an area where there were no pedestrians. After some arguing the policeman told them to go home and to not walk any more. Bradbury said, “Yes, sir, I’ll never walk again.” Using this experience as inspiration he went home and wrote “The Pedestrian”. Bradbury also said in this interview that “The Pedestrian” is simply the beginning of Fahrenheit 451.

    If you know nothing about Bradbury´s stories I could recommend you to read some of HIS books.


    I can´t imagine a city like L.A. with so bad public transportation system, lage…inmense, yes I know that, but there is a saying that says


    Did you remember the phrase of “YES, YOU CAN”…… thant´s the point………..WANT/CAN
    in Spanish:

    Just a pleasure Lucy to see you here again, some how this note of you gives me some remembering, yes, you know what I mean.

    By the way, I sold my car on the year 1994 after driving since I was eighteen more or less…..and never bought a new one despite
    every one round me said ..I was going to buy a new one.
    Bradbury´s ideas were inside my mind? May be.

    All my best dear Lucy.


  5. Henrique says:

    I live in very small city (11,000 people) and, yes, not much interesting things to do, like movie theather, places to go out and have dinner, etc.

    But fortunately I don’t lose time in traffic, and I think it’s one the worst thing in live, because our time is too little to spend in this way…

    – Dan, congratulations for the little car you have, it’s an intelligent attitude, you’re helping the local traffic e taking care of the world too with a car which run 18 km/litre
    – Emiliano, It’s good to know you sold your car and never bought a new one, sometimes we can lived with things that we think is impossible, and like Dan, you are doing a action for the world!

    My best dear friends at ESl Pod and our teachers Jeff, Lucy and Warren, always bringing new knowledges!

    Henrique, Brazil

  6. Betty says:

    Hello Everyone in ESLPOD Land!

    My joints are aching because of walking too much, that’s why I have not been writing much recently.

    Thanks to everyone who continue to write something for me to learn everyday.

    Where are you, Tania? I hope you are well.

    Betty 🙂

  7. Betty says:

    Dear Emiliano

    Ray Bardbury died last year on 5 June. That’s 367 days ago.

    I remember you writing something here last year paying tribute to this great man.

    Thanks for retelling the interesting story about the policeman asking him not to walk on the street.

    You see, I knew someone who did not like to walk in the streets in England.

    Perhaps he could not shake off the horrible image of one of his classmate being chased down the street and beaten up by a gang of unknown people.

    I think the police was trying to protect Ray Bradbury from being mugged. Some streets are too dangerous even for the policemen to walk on!

    Good story though.

    Best Regards

    Betty 🙂

  8. Betty says:

    Dear Lucy

    Thank you very much indeed for this inspirational article plus the song walking in L.A.

    I have walked in L.A. before, 12 years ago.

    The song Walking in L.A. was created on 1982, which was 19 years before I went to L.A.

    There was quite a lot of people walking in the street when I was walking there. Might be they all were tourists, like me and my family.

    Lucy there is no worse place in the world than Hong Kong when it comes to traffic congestion.

    There are people congestions on the pavements as well.

    During rush hours, all the public transports including the MTR trains (Underground, subway, tube) were fully packed.

    Only the ferries (boats) were not so fully packed.

    At one time I thought I would die in the MTR train by people squashing me so much.

    It cost the local government an enormous amount of money to build and maintain the public transports systems. Hong Kong has invested an unbelievably huge amount of money on public transports. But the new highways, flyovers, subways etc took no time to fill up again.

    You have to come to live in Hong Kong to understand our grievance.

    Many thanks again, Lucy, for you have encouraged me to write something here.

    Best Regards

    Betty 🙂

  9. Aécio Flávio Perim says:

    Good lesson! I only don’t like to hear L.A. has traffic problems. I wonder how is my master Jeff doing in a jam. In my city the traffic is light because there are not many cars moving on the streets. The most vehicle are bycicles, horses pulling a two-wheel cart, motocycles and so forth. The sidewalks are not full of people going and coming. My city is almost like a paradise. Come to here and have peace.
    Aecio from Brazil.

  10. Peter says:

    Hello, I live in Toronto which is an sprawling city. In fact no exposition teams ever found yet where GTA ends . Where is the city limits:))
    But,no worries , we r working on it :)))
    Yet, the subway system and bus system here in GTA ( Grater Toronto Area) work so flawlessly on the assigned time schedule that you can literally set your clock with it. The system goes like clockwork man,no delay in schedule,what so ever. Sometimes ,one wonders how they do it. And, what makes it even more ride worthy is that the whole city transit system all over GTA is meticulous. They have crews working round the clock to keep it in mint condition both mechanically and sanitarily:)))
    Kudos on you TTC people. You are the Best !!!!

    Eslpod rules


  11. parviz says:

    Hi Lucy,
    I imagine that everything must be interesting in L.A. even its congested traffic line. There, the advantages offset the drawbacks.
    Here, where I live, people have very many problems with transportation. The city has extended out in the last 10 years, but the transportation, on the other hand, has not improved, which has no parallel with the population.
    The city holds about 2000,000 million people. It is as big as LA, I guess, but less exciting and equipped as LA.
    Interestingly, most people love to walk, which is why Monoxide has not exploded in the city. But, let’s say there are some careless factories, which emit tons of poisons in the air, otherwise the air is clean and the sky is blue.
    Similarly, many people like to get their cars to go to and from work. Because the transportation is weak, unsurprisingly, leaves no other choices for people than using their own cars, unless they want to lose their jobs.
    Still, there are many people, I included, who use transportation system. Ironically, we who use public transportation get to and back from work more quickly than car-owners and people who walk. You know why? The streets are so narrow and tight that make moving difficult. Also there are countless traffic lights at corner of thousands of intersections.
    So, what would you do?
    The City, however, desperately tries to keep the city going smoothly, but all the efforts are in vain, because money shortage. There have been some suggestions to make the city better, by the way. The subway, for example, is two years short of completion. Again, it would be completed a few years ago, if there had not been financial difficulties.
    God bless us people.
    Thank you

  12. parviz says:

    Granted, I love walking and I do sometimes. that is a good reason for me to eat more.

  13. parviz says:

    Hi Lucy and Jeff
    Two years ago when I started writing in this blog, along with listening to your podcast, I had nothing to say. When it came to write something here, my mind kept coming blank.
    But now is totally opposite. I run out of time very quickly, when I want to write here.

    I am improving so fast, according to my records, that I don’t care if I am walking as long as I am accelerating Like a spaceship.
    It is like my soul flies, so who needs a car.

    I am really happy about what has happened to my English. And, Admittedly, that is because of you and Jeff.
    Thank you

  14. Dan says:


    How many interesting stories. Thank you all guys.

    I was checking out the surface area of my town, it is 6 square kilometers (2.31 square miles)

    The county of LA is half the size of my Region which is Lombardy, Italy.

    Thanks Henrique from Brazil.


    Dan, Italy

  15. Lassana says:

    Hi Everybody,

    First I think it isn’t the better topic, because people like me hate congestions on roads 🙂

    Where I live in suburban located in southern Strasbourg city, about 10 km (France) there are much congestions the morning when people go at workplace and afternoon (8h30 to 9h30 AM and 5h to 18h30 PM). The traffic is very high at those times.

    Many of my colleagues pass a long time the morning and the afternoon, certain one hour morning and one hour the afternoon to go at their home.

    Certain of my colleagues get train with their bike and get off when they arrived at train station and ride until our company.

    But there are a lot of people who use their bike to go at workplace. I think it’s a good idea, they don’t spend money to go at workplace and they also do sport with their bike.

    Besides in Strasbourg which is much more little than L.A, officials have improved so much the public transporation and bike roads that people use more and more those equipments.

    Currently there is a project about the creating of train lines which start from suburban until Strasbourg’s city.

    I think nations have to multiply several sort of transportation.

    We have to be much less depending of cars and use much more the public transportation. So we can able to reduce waste and energy consumption.

    Thanks Lucy !

    See you soon.


  16. Dan says:

    Me again,

    I do not know you guys but my town is one of those where
    You can still hear the chilly sound of the bell when someone dies.

    That’s how tiny is my town.

  17. parviz says:

    Hi Dan,
    I envy you?
    Small city?
    I grew up in a small village where, at the time, only 5000 people lived.
    You know, we didn’t have many cars in the village, there were no bothering sounds, not so much cars.
    Everything was friendly to us, especially the people. We all knew each other.
    If anything happened in the other side of the village, you would hear it right off the bat.
    We were doing agriculture, and we had this huge big Tractor, which we used to use to plough the soil.
    Now, I am imprisoned in a big city. Though the people are nice, as friendly as the people in my old home-town village, there isn’t many things to do.
    We don’t feel lonely and lost. The grace is, the air is very nice especially in the mornings.
    People like to walk here, that is why the streets are always crowded.

  18. Satomi says:

    Hi, Lucy.
    This is my first comment.
    In my country, Japan, the transportation is also heavy like L.A.
    Especially, trains are the heaviest transportation in the world, I think.
    I live in Tokyo, I always fight with crowded people when I go university or somewhere.
    I am disgusted with it everymornig, everytime.
    the part of companies have the policy, ”Flextime”. The emploees can select their starting of worktime.
    But commute trains in Tokyo have not changed, I think.
    We desire the person who have the idea about improvemennt of transportation!!

  19. emiliano says:

    Nothing to do with cars, cats or similar.
    Today it is the Spaniard who talks or writes.


    Two Spaniard playing the final match:

    David Ferrer – Rafa Nadal

    Just incredible, after four and thirty seventh minutes, 30º C degrees of temperatura
    on the ground of Philippe Chatrier, 56 games, 335 points, Nadal and Djokovic, finally
    Rafa it is going to play for wining the 8th first Roland Garros´s prize against anothe
    incredible good Spanish player David Ferrer who finished with the French dream of
    watching a French playing to win the final.
    So many years without seeing a French player on the Roland Garros Match. Well I am
    sorry for them, but I am happy as Spanish, Yes, I like Tennis very much.
    It could be one of the Sports I like to play and to watch.

    Tomorrow could be an historical match in Paris, Nadal it is the most winer person in
    Roland Garros already, seventh time with only 27 years….tomorrow could be eighth
    But David Ferrer has his great oportunity of wining his first and I think he could be
    a great candidate.

    Ferrer and Nadal are good friends in real life, but…….playing it is another thing.

    Spaniards individialities are genious …Picasso, Lorca, Velazquez, Fernando. Alonso
    Severo Ochoa, and so forth………..but now and then as a colectivity…just a disaster
    except in futball or baskellball……….That´s life.

    My best to all of you.


  20. Dan says:

    Hey, Hi there Satomi from Japan,

    I have got an idea: Why do not we genetically shrink people! That way we’ will have more room. 🙂

    Hey Emiliano,

    Do I have to remember you the King of Spain going Elephant hunting? Isn’t he a BEEP.

    Bye, have a nice week-end.

    Dan, Italy

  21. Betty says:

    Good morning everyone!

    Today is the second Sunday in June 2013.

    Next Sunday will be Father’s Day in many parts of the world.

    I hope to eat to my heart’s content on that day.

    (Thanks Jeff for the above expression which stays in my heart all the time – ESLPodcast 73 – Halloween )

    I will be busy next Sunday, so let me congratulate everyone here in advance.

    We don’t have to be a father to celebrate Father’s Day.

    Everyone who are able to celebrate should celebrate.

    Do whatever you think is meaningful, and cheerful.

    Happy Father’s Day also to our Dr Jeff McQuillan who is the Father of ESLPOD.com.

    Betty 🙂

  22. tracy_lee says:

    Hi Lucy,

    In my city,the transit is not so seriously.Probable is that my city is still a small city near Ganton.But Canton,where I have ever studied,have problably traffic jam every minute.Althoug there are various kind of transportations in Ganton,like Bus,Subway,BRT,APM…still there are so many people are blocked on the way to work or on the way off work.Usually people need to spend one or more hour to their destination.
    What more serious is that,we sometimes spend more time on trasportation rather than the thing we need to do.People may have some negative feeling when they often meet traffic jam.

    Tha’s commen problem in large city,especially in super large city. But till now Canton still don”t find any effective solutions.

  23. emiliano says:

    Dear Betty,
    Good memory my friend, now I remeber that yes, it was like you said.

    In the short story of the man who walks in L.A. when nobody is walking Bradbury gave us a reason
    for that.
    All people of L.A. and other cities are at home watching the T.V., tv. was all they need to be happy
    so books were not necessary, walks or talks with other were forbidden by the State that controls
    Afterward he wrote his great novel Fahrenheit 451, that is the temperatura to burn books, and in
    his novel books were forbidden and there was a pólice forcé that burn books and houses of people
    that have any book.
    Books were suversives as books make people to think but also give information to them, so it is
    more difficult to control them.

    Yes, it sounds familiar to all of us, “as less we know the easier to control our thoughts is”
    that´s has been, and it is, the idea of all dictators or big power.
    All of us remember and have seen “the nazis” burning books in Berlin, but also church, and so forth.

    There is movie with this tittle “Fahrenheiht 451” directed by Françoise Truffaut on 1966, it was good
    but the book is better.
    My daughter Eva, who read the book said me that she could remember by memory “Lord of the Rings”
    her book, just because in the novel there were people that remember a book just to not lost all books
    A person, a living book, so books could be transmited from one to the others.

    Nice, terrible novel, but so real.
    Now we have in our society another book written too many years ago “1984” by George Orwell.
    Big Brother is here among us, so privacy it is over…may be next future books will be over too.

    By my age sure I will not see it, but yes, I could imagine a society like that.

    Pessimist? NO, may be an optimist better informed, ja, ja, but who cares about?

    My best dear Betty, it is always so nice to write thinking on you, knowing you
    are going to read my thoughts.

    Thanks a lot for that, Betty and other blogers, my voice doesn´t claim in dessert.


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